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ISC and its partners organised the 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on 12-29 September 2023.
The role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the central theme of the Summit. The objective is to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs, Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting will also prepare input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA79 beginning on 12 September 2024.
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Thursday, September 21 • 9:00am - 11:30am
Beyond the Cloud: Data Infrastructure and Climate Justice (210903)

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The Climate Justice Working Group at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society invites a public conversation on the environmental impacts of the physical infrastructure of our digital world. We will explore questions of data science, accountability, colonialism, and the tensions between the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI), access to information as a precursor to development, and the impacts of data centers globally. 
The power of data infrastructure lies in its potential to improve development outcomes on a basis of fostering human rights, social inclusion, and poverty eradication. It supports citizen engagement and knowledge aggregation. Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies that are dependent on vasts amounts of data are often heralded as tools for addressing the climate crisis. However, the physical infrastructure underlying our digital activity has significant environmental and human costs. 
Narratives centering the cloud obfuscate the physical reality of this technology which is dependent on the presence of data centers and other forms of resource-intensive infrastructure which often extend across geographies. As annual data volumes continue to explode—surpassing 120 zettabytes or 120 trillion gigabytes this year alone—its creation, transmission and storage result in significant land, energy and water use.
Currently, there is a global digital rights movement that seeks to address the climate, ecological, and human impacts of data infrastructure—from South Africa to the Arctic, from Brazil to Malaysia. As environmental and technology justice efforts merge globally, the need for alliance building is increasing—for knowledge sharing, organizational collaboration, and mitigating duplicative efforts. This panel will highlight the emerging transnational solidarity on data infrastructure, accountability, and environmental justice.
This session will bring together a group of scientists, ecologists and activists to explore how climate and technology justice efforts are intersecting in different parts of the world to address the impacts of the physical infrastructure of our digital world.

avatar for Marie-Therese Png

Marie-Therese Png

DeepMind Scholar, Oxford Internet Institute
Marie-Therese is a British, Afro-Caribbean and Chinese-Singaporean individual working at the intersections of technology justice, environmental justice and decoloniality. Her work bridges activism, policy, academia and industry. She is a Consultant for Google DeepMind and social impact... Read More →
avatar for Hernan L. Bianchi Benguria

Hernan L. Bianchi Benguria

PhD in Geography student, University of Toronto
Hernán is an architect and urban planner with experience in the private and public sectors in Chile, and a PhD student in Human Geography at the University of Toronto.He collaborates as a board member in the non-profit Open Systems in independent publications and exhibitions on landscape... Read More →
avatar for Shanika Hettige-Heckman

Shanika Hettige-Heckman

Strategic Advisor, FEMA
Shanika Hettige-Heckman is Strategic Advisor for FEMA's Insurance and Mitigation Readiness Division (IMRD) in the Resilience Office. There, she guides long and short-term planning, advises decision makers as they direct the Hazard Mitigation (HM) cadre workforce, and she manages special... Read More →
avatar for Claire Slatter

Claire Slatter

DAWN Executive Committee Member, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Claire Slatter is a founding member of DAWN and was General Coordinator from 1997 to 2004. She is a feminist scholar with a background in anti-nuclear, anti-colonial, trade union and social justice activism. She has an M.A from the Australian National University and a Ph.D. from Massey... Read More →
avatar for Camila Nobrega

Camila Nobrega

Beyond the Green and Free University of Berlin
Camila Nobrega is a transmedia journalist, writer, and academic researcher. Her work has a main focus on feminist perspectives of megaprojects, fostering social environmental justice lenses. Initiator of the project Beyond the Green. Lecturer at the Free University of Berlin, co-coordinating... Read More →
avatar for Yung Au

Yung Au

University of Oxford
Yung is a PhD and Clarendon scholar at the University of Oxford, and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Arts London. Their work lies at the intersection of technology and justice, with a particular focus on highlighting marginalised perspectives. She is also currently leading... Read More →

avatar for Genevieve Ennis Hume

Genevieve Ennis Hume

Principal, Berkman Klein Climate Justice Working Group/Implikit
Genevieve Ennis Hume is a researcher, designer and educator whose work centers on risk and resilience across complex social, technological and political networks. She has directed multiple initiatives that explore these topics and their relationship to climate justice, artificial... Read More →

Thursday September 21, 2023 9:00am - 11:30am EDT
  Digital Agenda